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Nigeria: Depositors await re opening of Savannah Bank

The Nigeria Deposit Insurance Corporation (NDIC) has summoned the Interim board  and management of Savannah Bank of Nigeria (SBN) Plc to explain why it has  failed to recapitalise and commence operation.

This follows the expiration of the deadline given to it by the Central Bank of  Nigeria (CBN) after a Court of Appeal restored the bank’s operating licence.

The Court of Appeal sitting in Abuja had ordered the re-opening of Savannah Bank, which was closed about seven years ago by the CBN. The bank’s licence was withdrawn by the CBN on February 15, 2002, over allegation  of unethical conduct.

Justice Stephen Jonah Adah of a federal high court sitting in Abuja had in 2006  said that the closure of the bank was in order. He said the CBN acted in line with its provision of section 12 of the Banking and Other Financial Institutions (BOFI) Act.

Dissatisfied with the decision of the court, however, the management of the bank  lodged an appeal at the Court of Appeal, Abuja division. In the appeal, the bank asked the court to set aside the decision of the high  court. The bank inisted that the trial judge was wrong in coming to the  conclusion that the CBN was right in closing the bank.

Acting Managing Director NDIC Alhaji Umaru Ibrahim said in a statement made available to THISDAY after meeting with  the bank’ directors and consultants, that the corporation was concerned about the  plight of SBN depositors.

“We are worried about how soon you will re-open because the general public has been asking us this question and we have been unable to provide answers.  We also need to brief the corporation’s board on the matter,” he said.

Executive Director (Services), SBN Mrs. Pat Nwobodo in response however, told  the NDIC officials that the bank had concluded arrangements to open six  offices in each of the six six geo-political zones of the country, to facilitate depositor interaction and verification of claims.

She assured that the bank would conclude the take-over of its remaining office locations nationwide from the NDIC within the next two weeks.

Consequently, the NDIC boss advised the interim board and anagement of the bank to draw an implementation timetable and give a time frame for the re-opening of its branches nationwide.

“You also need to do a lot of public relations and open a few offices to  kick-start the re-opening process in order to assure the banking public that you  are really serious about giving them access to their deposits,” he said.

But Nwobodo also told the meeting that an interactive website, office  locations, contact persons and phone numbers had been released so that the bank  could be reached by its customers.

She said that SBN would need more time, moral and technical support from  the CBN and NDIC to resume fully. She added that the bank had set  up a project team to handle the logistics for the re-opening exercise, including re-engagement of a few of the bank’s former employees and refurbishing of some  offices, particularly in Lagos and Abuja where the head office is located.